The Glass Palace (2002) 5 stars

The Glass Palace is a 2000 historical novel by Indian writer Amitav Ghosh. The novel …

Will sit with me for a long time

5 stars

I have been on a search for books on Myanmar, especially those written by people of heritage there too. At the end of the book, the bio mentions in a quick sentence that he was born in India to Burmese parents, but I cannot find anywhere online if this is in reference to ethnicity or nationality. It is from stories of his family that send him on a five year research journey for this book. One must be careful to consider what is fact, what is fiction, and what we can only surmise because what has been lost.

At some points of the book, things felt way too drawn out, at others, it felt too short. But as someone who has not read a true storyteller's story in a long time, I began to find much joy and excitement from reading this book. If I had followed my plans, I might have finished it in just over two months, and rather: I finished it in under one! With momentum I pushed forward. And it was brutal for so many days to feel such attachment to characters, so many who do not get any resolve. He covers a vast, rich history, where you encounter more than 5 generations of narratives.

Yet, in many ways it was also a relief, a time to reflect on histories and the momentum that has existed while current news about home leaves me so disabled and numb. I think this book was good for me to read in this time in my life in a way I could appreciate it. While I may not be a strong literary critic, I cannot go without saying there is power in his writing. In some ways, I am a bit abashed to even share it. But I think it did something good for me, to have someone acknowledge how complex it can be to have so many people whose lives are constantly intertwined yet their worldviews might be so vastly different. These are not stories that could be easily passed on at such a level to me by my parents and grandparents. A part of me knows they have been so affected that there are stories that they could never bear to reach my ears from their own mouths. Still, I have a desire to know, I see the edges curling around the makeshift walls they've placed along my path and I can't help but peel them back and see the path for myself so I can go beyond.